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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Grants Are Now Available for Preserving WWI Memorials!
Posted by Diane
WWI Memorial in
Jackson, Miss. (Library of Congress)
Here's a project for your history- and preservation-minded
genealogical society, civic group or scouting troop: The 100
Cities/100 Memorials matching grant program is accepting
applications through July 10 (an extended deadline) for projects to adopt and preserve WWI
Up to 100 WWI memorial restoration projects around the country will
receive matching funds of up to $2,000 apiece from the US WWI Centennial Commission in
Washington, DC, and the Pritzker Military
Museum and Library in Chicago.
Any municipal government, organization or individual can apply. You'll
find details and the application on the 100 Cities/100 Memorials
World War I, also known as the Great War, began in Europe just over
100 years ago, July 28, 1914. The United States entered the war
April 6, 1917, and an armistice ended fighting Nov. 11, 1918. The July
2014 Family Tree Magazine includes a research guide to
records of World War I service, as well as a guide to
tracing women who served as nurses and volunteers overseas and on
the home front.
Also find our downloadable guide
to the top 10 WWI genealogy websites in ShopFamilyTree.com.
WWI Memorial in
Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)
Genealogy societies | Historic preservation
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 09:09:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, 16 June 2017
2017 Virtual Conference: Genealogy Technology and Tools
Posted by Diane
Guest post by Vanessa Wieland, Dean of Family Tree University
We have another amazing virtual conference in the works (September 15-17), with three days of genealogy search tips, tricks, techniques and tools you can use to improve your genealogy search.
Our lineup is still being finalized, but we’re looking forward to presentations on the following tech-based tools, plus a presentation that will compare the four DNA testing companies so you can see which test is best for you.
Cloud Technology: Preservation and Organization - Jennifer Alford
Learn how to preserve your genealogy and organize it online with these tips. You'll learn about what tools will be most useful for keeping your work in great shape.
Time Travel Technology - Lisa Louise Cooke
Go back in time to discover your ancestors with these tech tools that will help you discover the details that will bring your ancestor's history to life.
Resources for Visual Storytelling - Nancy Hendrickson
If a picture paints a thousand words, this presentation will provide you with the know-how to create great tales using visual elements.
5 Google Secrets Revealed - Lisa Louise Cooke
Google is a great resource for researching your family history and heritage, especially when you've learned these handy research tricks.
Learn more about the 2017 Fall Virtual Conference and sign up early to get the early bird discount. Take $40 off the price with coupon code FALLVCEARLY.
Genealogy Software | Tech Advice
Friday, 16 June 2017 14:41:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 31 May 2017
How to Use the Library of Congress' New Sanborn Maps for Genealogy
Posted by Diane
Have you heard the news about the Library of Congress’ new digital Sanborn maps?
Nearly 25,000 maps are now online, with more to be added over the next three years for a total of 500,000.
Sanborn fire insurance maps were published for insurance companies to assess a structure’s risk of catching fire. They were published in different years for different places, and usually after 1920, a set of maps for a particular town might be updated by pasting over a new building.
The maps show subdivision names, streets, buildings, and building details such as address, purpose, composition, windows and doors. You can locate your ancestor’s address before renumbering and renaming that might’ve happened, and you get a good look at your ancestor’s neighborhood at the time.
Here’s an example of how I used the collection to see where my ancestors lived:
1. Much of my mom's family lived in Covington, Ky., so that’s what I searched for (typing the full state name) in the Search box at the top of the page. Maps were published in 1886 and 1894.
I chose 1886.
2. Next, I looked up a few ancestors’ addresses in city directories. In 1886, Louis Thoss lived and worked at a hardware business at 73 E. 12th st. His mother, Elizabeth, was a widow at the southeast corner (“sec”) of 13th and Garrard. His deceased brother’s widow, Jennie, lived at 165 E. 13th.
3. Each set of maps took up many pages in a book. An index map, labeled Map 1, is the first in the series and shows which page covers each area.
Zoom in on the index map and drag it around to get a better look at street names.
For larger cities, check the last page in the series for a street index that lists which range of house numbers and the map page they’re located on. It also lists “specials,” or major buildings.
The corner of East 13th and Garrard is on Map 30. Jennie's address on East 13th could be on map 29 or 30.
I Googled Louis' address to get a better idea of its location today. It's probably on Map 20, but might be on a different map if houses have been renumbered since Louis’ day.
4. At the top right of the web page, switching from single image to gallery view and clicking Go gets me to the view of all map pages in this set, so I can find and click image 30.
Here's where it helps to check a Google map if you don't know the area. Thirteenth street was shown running north/south, because it was probably positioned horizontally on the page. But in real life, it runs east/west. If I didn't know that, I’d pick the wrong corner of 13th and Garrard. You can rotate the map using controls in the lower right corner.
Elizabeth Thoss lived at No. 133. No. 165 is 11 doors to the east.
5. Elizabeth’s home is mostly pink and some yellow, with numbers and Xes, and the notation “no opgs” on the side. You’ll find a key on the index map page and more information about the colors and symbols here, along with notes such as the area’s population and size of the fire department.
Colors indicate construction materials. Green indicated a high-risk building. The numbers tell how many stories. An X marks a door, and Xes on walls mark windows, with dots for windows on second or higher stories. An O is an iron chimney. Elizabeth’s building was mostly brick (pink) and 2-½ stories, with a 2-story wood (yellow) addition. The front section held a saloon (“sal”), with a dwelling (“Dwg”) in the rear.
6. You can download this map in several formats, all the way up to a TIF, using the Download menu at the lower left.
If you’re looking in New York City, you can use the New York Public Library’s Map Warper to view Sanborn and other old maps layered over modern maps. If not, you can upload your map to Google Earth and do an overlay there. Find a tutorial in the July/August 2015 issue of Family Tree Magazine.
Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Maps
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 20:58:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, 30 May 2017
MyHeritage DNA Releases New & Improved Ethnicity Estimate Reports
Posted by Diane
MyHeritage DNA today
releases its new and improved Ethnicity Estimate reporting, which
provides your percentages of origins from 42 ethnic regions around
the world—more than what's available with other tests.
These regions are based in part on MyHeritage's Founder Populations
Project, which analyzed the DNA of 5,000 individuals whose
MyHeritage family trees showed ancestry in the same areas for many
Uniquely, the ethnicity estimate comes with a short, shareable video
presentation enhanced by music that's based on the culture of the
ethnicities represented. Here's an example provided by MyHeritage:
MyHeritage DNA’s new
Ethnicity Estimate experience from MyHeritage on Vimeo.
42 world regions
But here's a more-important unique feature: According to its announcement, MyHeritage DNA estimates tease apart ethnicities that are grouped
together in other companies' DNA tests. The 42 ethnicities include "Balkan, Baltic, Eskimo and Inuit, Japanese, Kenyan, Sierra
Leonean, Somali, four major Jewish groups (Ethiopian, Yemenite,
Sephardic from North Africa and Mizrahi from Iran and Iraq),
Indigenous Amazonian, Papuan and many others."
MyHeritage, headquartered in Israel, is known for its international
member base. It'll be interesting to see how my report looks: My
Ancestry DNA test reported me at 28 percent Italy/Greece and 4
percent Middle Eastern. I have no known ancestry in Italy or Greece,
but my great-grandparents were Lebanese.
Free for those who've uploaded results
The Ethnicity Estimate is free to users who have already uploaded
their DNA data to MyHeritage from other services, or who upload it
in the coming months. (This offer helps MyHeritage build its DNA
results database, important when more-established competitors
at Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe already have large
Another benefit of uploading is free DNA matching to others in the
MyHeritage DNA database. Note that different companies test
different locations on the autosomal DNA, and they "impute" (or
estimate) the DNA values for locations that don't overlap with
another company's test. MyHeritage takes the imputed values into
account when making matches, so your match list will look different
here than it does at the service where you tested.
MyHeritage Chief Science Officer Yaniv Erlich called the ethnicity
reporting "an appetizer." "There are excellent installments on the
way, and users can prepare for a feast! We have detailed plans to
increase accuracy, extend our Founder Populations project further,
and improve the resolution for ethnicities of great interest to our
users from highly diverse origins."
Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 11:29:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Three New Ways to Learn About Your Ancestor's Military Service
Posted by Diane
On Memorial Day, Americans traditionally place flowers on the graves
of those who died in military service (read
how this holiday, originally called Decoration Day began).
Canadians observe Memorial Day on July 1.
Library of Congress
Another way to honor your ancestors who served in the armed forces
is to learn about their wartime experiences and preserve those
stories by writing them down. If it was years ago when you last
learned about the wars your ancestors served in, it might be time to
give it another go—technology offers new ways to explore
historic wars through maps, apps and videos.
Library of Congress
If you can learn the military unit and battles your relative served
in (this military research guide can help), military maps let you
trace his movements and even where he would've been during battles.
Library of Congress has a Military Battles and Campaigns map
collection, which you can search by keyword using the search
field at the top of the page. The one above is from a series showing the
12th Army Group from D-Day through July 26, 1945, in World War
The David Rumsey Map Collection has digitized
military maps and military
atlases you can search or browse using the filters on the left
side of the page.
For the Civil War and American Revolution, explore the animated and historical
maps at the Civil War Trust website. They include overviews of
the entire war and for individual battles.
Your smart device can help you access military history information
wherever you are. Try searching your device's app store for
"military history," "[name of war] history" or "[name of battle]
history." A few I found include:
- Civil War
Today ($2.99, iOS): This History Channel app shows you a
daily newspaper article about the war.
- Civil War
Trust Battle Apps (free, iOS and Android): These let you
virtually tour Civil War battlefields for major battles like
Chancellorsville and Antietam, and they're good companions if
you're visiting the battlefield.
History (.99, iOS): This reference has 1,200 entries
for important military events; search by date and keyword.
It also has a "this day in history" feature.
Century Military Uniforms (about $4, iOS and Android):
View uniforms used by various countries throughout the 20th
The Civil War Trust comes through again with educational videos
from history experts, including a Civil War In4 series that
delves into a topic in four minutes or less.
Archives' YouTube channel has playlists including WWI
Airmen and D-Day.
The Library of Congress has a YouTube
playlist on the Spanish-American War. YouTube also has videos
from Ken Burns' documentaries about the Civil
War and World
the only known Allied color footage from World War II.
More Genealogy Resources for Military Ancestors
Find websites for researching your ancestors who served
in the US Armed Forces in this
list of websites and get research tips in our free
podcast on military records.
In ShopFamilyTree.com, check out our downloadable, complete guides
to research in military
service records and military
Maps | Military records
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 12:44:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 03 May 2017
Overlooked Genealogy Resource Alert! 9 Tips to Research at Heritage Museums
Posted by Diane
You’ve searched Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, gone to the
library and maybe even taken a DNA test to discover your family's immigrant
origins. But for a genealogist, just knowing the country or region is rarely enough.
To find records in your family's homeland, you need their
town or village. And you probably want to understand how your ancestors
lived, what they did for work, what they wore and ate.
Heritage museums give you a look at that culture’s history
and people. Many have research centers (an overlooked genealogy resource!) with records such as
foreign-language newspapers, maps, photos, histories and more. Staff often can help with research and translation.
Whether your ancestors hail from Germany, Ireland, Eastern Europe,
Japan, Africa, Mexico or elsewhere, there’s probably a museum for
Tree Magazine's roundup of 11 Must-Visit Heritage Museums.
National Hispanic Cultural Center library, Albuquerque
These tips will help you do your best genealogy research at a
- Scan the museum website to understand its library holdings and geographic focus. The National Hispanic Cultural
Center library in Albuquerque, NM, for example, is a
great research destination for those with deep Southwest roots. It has more
than 12,500 titles, and an archive with rare books,
photos, maps and manuscripts.
- Search the online catalog (if there is one) for materials you'll want to use.
- Call ahead to verify hours and any fees (including acceptable
forms of payment), ask about special services such as
translation or research consultations. Make an appointment with
research center staff if needed.
- Check the museum's events calendar in case you want to
time your visit for a family history workshop or cultural
festival (such as Historic
Huguenot Street's annual Gathering).
- Find out about research room rules. For example, you may need
to request materials ahead of time so they can be pulled for you,
or use only pencils for note-taking.
- Bring a pedigree chart with as much information as you know.
Summarize what you’ve learned about immigrant relatives, even if
all you have is stories. “If your family talks about your
great-grandfather who always went to the river to catch fish,
that can be a clue to a geographic area,” says Karile Vaitikute
of the Balzekas Museum of
Lithuanian Culture in Chicago.
- Bring good-quality, full-color copies or high-resolution
digital images of any records needing translation.
- Consider becoming a museum member or making a donation,
especially if the research center charges minimal fees. Send a
thank-you note to acknowledge help you received.
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i Tokioka Heritage Resource Center, Honolulu
See Family Tree Magazine's list of 11 Must-Visit Heritage Museums
To find museums focusing on your family's heritage, search
online for the country or ethnicity plus the words heritage, history or cultural
and museum. Add the name of a city or town to narrow results to places in that area.
Libraries and Archives | Museums
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 12:35:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, 24 April 2017
National DNA Day 2017: What It Is & Genetic Genealogy Sales To Look For
Posted by Diane
National Human Genome Research Institute
If you follow genealogy folks on Facebook, Twitter or blogs, you
might've seen mention DNA Day. What, you wonder, is DNA
National DNA Day is April 25. It commemorates two landmark events in human genetic
research that happened in April:
The US Senate and House of Representatives officially proclaimed
April 25, 2003, DNA Day. No formal proclamation has taken place
since, but the
National Human Genome Research Institute organizes annual DNA Day
In ShopFamilyTree.com, we're having a sale on our webinar, DNA
and the Paper Trail: Putting It All Together, on Tuesday,
April 25. Use
coupon code DNADAY10 to save $10 on your registration,
and learn how to combine DNA testing with traditional genealogy
research to discover your ancestors.
You also can save
81% on our Genetic Genealogy Mega Collection, which gathers
educational tools like our Family Tree Guide to Genetic
Genealogy and DNA Testing book, our Using DNA to Solve Family
Mysteries video download and many more.
You'll also find sales at DNA testing companies, too. Here's a roundup
of DNA testing sales for DNA Day 2017.
Monday, 24 April 2017 13:29:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Find Ancestors in Free Probate Records on AmericanAncestors!
Posted by Diane
AmericanAncestors.org, the database website of the New England
Historic Genealogical Society, is offering you free access to 32
of its probate records-related databases through next Tuesday,
You must register as a free guest member with AmericanAncestors.org
in order to access the probate databases, which mostly come from New
York and New England.
Click here to start searching.
Probate records, which relate to the distribution of a deceased
person's estate, may include wills, estate inventories, guardianship
papers and more. They often identify heirs and provide clues to
family relationships—especially valuable in the time before birth
and death records.
To help you decipher unfamiliar terms in your ancestor's probate
our free Will & Probate glossary on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
You can get help researching and understanding your ancestors'
probate records in our on-demand video class Using
Probate Records, available in
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 15:13:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Q&A With Randy Majors, Creator of Online Map & Search Tools Genealogists Love
Posted by Diane
Randy Majors is the inventor of the Historical US County
Boundary Maps tool genealogists use to trace their ancestors'
county boundary changes (we at Family Tree Magazine think
it's so useful that we made it one of our 101
Best Websites for 2016).
which lets you run genealogy-specific advanced Google searches, is
another one of his creations. Our intrepid reporter Sunny Morton tracked him down
to ask a few questions about maps and genealogy.
Q. What inspired you to develop the county boundaries tool and
A. Both were born out of my own genealogy research: thinking there
have got to be better, quicker, more efficient ways of performing
tasks I do repeatedly.
Q. What’s your professional background?
A. In college, I got degrees in geography and GIS (geographic
information systems) just as that technology was moving mainstream. I spent much of my early career developing
interactive, computerized mapping tools for the energy industry.
When I became interested in family history more than 10 years ago,
I just applied my skill sets and interests in mapping and
Q. So you love maps?
A. I’ve been interested in maps forever. You know how other kids
have lemonade stands? I had a map stand in third grade.
Q. Have you had personal research success success using your tools
A. The county boundaries tool has mainly helped me overcome
mistakes. How many of us have discovered we haven’t found
something because we were looking in the wrong place?
AncestorSearch, I’ve taken six or seven family lines back at least
another generation. Despite how much is available on the big
genealogy websites, it’s funny how often something is buried on a site you don’t expect. And a lot of people have
messaged me about people they’ve found using AncestorSearch,
including living lost cousins.
Q. What’s the Let’sWalkTo
tool on your site?
A. That one is not related to genealogy. It’s literally just
another example of something I was interested in. My wife and I
like to walk everywhere. When we go out to dinner we
rarely drive, either where we used to live in Manhattan, NY, or
now in Denver, Colo.
When I’m traveling, I use this tool, too. You enter your preferred walking distance and the address, and get a list of restaurants and bars to click on. You can
filter for a specific type of food or entertainment and by price
point. This is just a mash-up of walking distances and restaurant
information on Google Maps, but it’s so useful.
Q. Tell us about a map hanging on your wall right now.
A. Manhattan in 1836. Only the southern tip was populated
and there was only forest land where Central Park is. I can see
that a building that’s now several blocks in from the water was
actually on the shoreline; so many of the old rivers are now
partly filled in. This map reminds me how this island has been
so hugely transformed.
Randy and Sunny teamed up on a May/June
2017 Family Tree Magazine article about using old
maps to solve genealogy research problems. Get your copy of this
issue today in ShopFamilyTree.com: It's available both as
a PDF download or a print
5 Questions Plus | Genealogy Web Sites | Maps
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 14:44:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
23andMe Authorized to Provide 10 New Genetic Health Reports to DNA Customers
Posted by Diane
Genetic genealogy and health testing company 23andMe announced that the FDA
has authorized the company to issue 10 new genetic health risk
reports to customers. Those include Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease,
Parkinson's Disease, Hereditary Thrombophilia, Celiac Disease and
the rest of the authorized report and a description of each
condition in this 23andMe blog post).
The FDA in 2013 ordered
23andMe to stop offering its health analysis, which informed
test-takers about their risks for 254 diseases and conditions,
because the company hadn't proven its tests were "analytically or
clinically validated." After negotiations with the FDA, 23andMe
began offering more-limited health-related reports in 2015.
To obtain the FDA's authorization for the new reports, 23andMe
"conducted extensive validation studies for accuracy and user
comprehension that met FDA standards," according to its blog.
The FDA also established a new authorization pathway for future
23andMe reports that are "substantially equivalent" to those already
approved, which should facilitate reports on additional conditions.
The company will release the new set of genetic health risk reports
in April. New customers will receive the reports when they're
available. Customers who've already tested should look for an email
from 23andMe about their eligibility to receive the new reports
(this has to do with your geographic location and the genotyping
"chip" used for your original test). See
more details on the 23andMe blog.
Learn how to use DNA testing in your genealogy research from our guidebook, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017 11:15:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)